Braces Are a Big Step You’ve taken a big step by having braces put on. You're now officially on the path towards a healthy, beautiful smile. It’s an exciting time, but it also comes with a bit of a learning curve. As you get used to your new orthodontic treatment, you may need to make a few adjustments, but it'll become second nature before you know it. Care & Maintenance Brushing with braces can take some getting used to. Maneuvering around brackets and wires takes a little practice. Be sure to brush thoroughly after every meal or snack, so any food particles are removed before bacteria has a chance to grow. If you’re not able to brush right away, rinsing your mouth with water will help until you can get to a toothbrush. Follow these tips for the best results: Use a fluoride toothpaste with a soft, rounded-bristle toothbrush. Braces wear toothbrushes out quickly, so be sure to replace yours as soon as it begins to show signs of wear. Brush around every part of your braces, as well as every surface of your teeth. Look for clean and shiny braces, with the edge of the brackets clearly visible. Fuzzy-or dull-looking metal means you didn’t brush as well as you should. Floss every night before you go to bed. Tools like floss threaders and waterpiks are helpful if you’re having difficulty with getting a good floss underneath the wires. Soreness When you first get your braces, you may notice that your teeth and mouth feel a little tender or sore. This is perfectly normal, and we promise your mouth won't be sore forever. To relieve the pain, we recommend dissolving one teaspoon of salt in eight ounces of lukewarm water. Swish and gargle this solution in your mouth for just a couple of minutes (do not swallow the saltwater). If your pain is severe and doesn't go away after rinsing, you can also try taking a pain reliever. It's normal for your lips, cheeks, and tongue to become irritated for one to two weeks as they toughen and become used to the braces. We would be happy to give you some wax that you can put over the braces to lessen the tenderness. If you need some wax, please let us know. Eating With Braces Don't worry, you'll be eating popcorn and snacking on potato chips again in no time. However, before you enjoy some of the treats you love, you'll need to avoid any foods that could damage your new braces. There are also a few oral habits you’ll want to steer clear of to keep your braces functioning perfectly. Chewing on objects like pens and ice cubes, biting your nails, and smoking can all cause unwanted pressure on your braces. Do your best to find another way to keep yourself busy while undergoing orthodontic treatment. FOODS TO AVOID Chewy foods — bagels, licorice Crunchy foods — popcorn, chips, ice Sticky foods — caramel candies, chewing gum Hard foods — nuts, hard candies Foods that require biting into — corn on the cob, apples, carrots FOODS YOU CAN EAT Dairy — soft cheese, pudding, milk-based drinks Breads — soft tortillas, pancakes, muffins without nuts Grains — pasta, soft cooked rice Meats/poultry — soft cooked chicken, meatballs, lunch meats Seafood — tuna, salmon, crab cakes Vegetables — mashed potatoes, steamed spinach, beans Fruits — applesauce, bananas, fruit juice Treats — ice cream without nuts, milkshakes, Jell-O, soft cake Common Orthodontic Issues Loose Wires, Bands, & Brackets The wires and bands on your braces may come loose. If this happens, please contact us as soon as possible so that we can check and repair your appliance. If any piece of your appliance comes off, be sure to save it and bring it to the office with you. You can temporarily fix the loose wire by using the back of a spoon or the eraser end of a pencil to carefully and gently push the wire back into place. If the loose wire is causing irritation to your lips or cheeks, put wax or a wet cotton ball over the broken wire to relieve the pain. Loose Teeth If your teeth begin feeling a little loose, don't worry – it’s normal! Your braces must loosen your teeth first to move them into the right position. Once your teeth have been repositioned, they won’t be loose anymore. Misplaced Archwire, Bracket, or Tie Once your teeth adjust to treatment, they begin to move. When this happens, the archwire that connects them may also move, poking out a bit near the back of the mouth and irritating your cheeks. You can often move this wire into a better position by using the eraser end of the pencil or a cotton swab. You can manipulate any misplaces wires or ties back into place by gently using a pair of clean tweezers. If some of the wires or brackets have shifted, and begun causing irritation to your mouth, you can use orthodontic wax to cover the parts that are poking out. This will help ease the discomfort, but make sure you get in touch with our office as soon as you can, so we can fix the actual problem instead of you only masking the symptoms at home. Caring for Your Appliance Damaged appliances can increase the length of your treatment process, so be sure to take care of all your appliances. Your teeth and jaw can only move into their correct positions if you consistently wear the rubber bands, headgear, retainer, or other appliances prescribed by your doctor. For example, Invisalign’s clear aligner system will only work if the aligners are worn the 20-22 hours per day as recommended. Being compliant is the only way to ensure your treatment is effective, and to help you achieve the smile you’ve always wanted to. Tips for Athletes & Musicians You can still play sports like normal during your treatment, but remember to protect your teeth with an orthodontic friendly mouth guard, or to remove your Invisalign aligner during practice or the game. If you have an accident during your athletic activity, check your appliances and your mouth immediately. If the appliances appear damaged or the teeth loosened, schedule an appointment. If you play an instrument, you may find it a little challenging to become adjusted to playing with your braces. It’s normal to have some difficulty with proper lip position. Sores can also develop, but liberal use of wax and warm salt-water rinses will help your lips and cheeks toughen up more quickly than you’d think.